‘Tenet’s IMAX Re-Release Brings an Impressive Global Box Office

The Big Picture

  • Warner Bros. re-released
    in IMAX locations worldwide as a strategic move for promoting upcoming films.
  • Tenet
    grossed $600,000 from 55 IMAX locations, with a focus on 70mm format for optimal viewing.
  • Despite initial underperformance,
    remains a divisive favorite, but Nolan’s future with Warner Bros. is still uncertain.

Taking off from the recent re-release of director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One, which yielded $30 million worldwide in its week-long run, Warner Bros. re-launched Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in select IMAX locations across the globe. While this primarily functions as a promotional strategy for the upcoming Dune: Part Two — a special preview for the movie is playing in front of Tenet screenings, as it did before the Dune re-release — it’s also an attempt by Warner Bros to extend an olive branch to both directors, who’ve expressed different degrees of disappointment in the studio’s pandemic-era release strategy.

Tenet grossed $600,000 from 55 IMAX locations worldwide this weekend, for an excellent per-theater average of more than $10,000. A dozen of these IMAX locations are playing the movie in the optimum 70mm format — widely considered the best way to experience Nolan’s vision. Tenet, as you’d remember, was the first major studio film to get a wide release in the immediate aftermath of the first lockdown in 2020. It was a controversial decision then, as governments hadn’t even started the vaccine roll-out, and the limited theaters that were open for business were operating under harsh restrictions. Not to mention the apprehension that audiences understandably had about returning to (potentially crowded) public places.

The movie ended up underperforming at the box office, despite Nolan’s expectations. It grossed a mere $58 million domestically, and another $306 million worldwide, for a cumulative global gross of $365 million. The science-fiction espionage film was one of Nolan’s costlier projects, carrying a reported budget of over $200 million. And even though it was spared from being a part of W.B.’s controversial decision to release each film on its 2021 slate simultaneously on the streaming service formerly known as HBO Max, it ended up being Nolan’s final collaboration with his longtime studio.

Is ‘Tenet’s Re-Release a Sign that Nolan’s Relationship with Warner Bros. Is Mending?

Known as a vocal advocate for the theatrical experience, and particularly the premium IMAX format, Nolan publicly denounced W.B.’s decision, and took his next film, the biographical thriller Oppenheimer, to Universal. The movie defied expectations to emerge as a smash hit, grossing over $960 million worldwide and scoring a leading 13 nods at the upcoming Oscars. And while Warner Bros has been trying to woo Nolan back into the fold, there’s been no confirmation yet about whether he’ll stick with Universal or not.

Starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, Tenet was Nolan’s lowest-grossing film since 2006’s The Prestige. It was also his most divisive project, critically. The movie holds a “fresh” 69% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but has emerged as something of a cult favorite in recent months. A typically ambitious epic, Tenet combined elements of Cold War thrillers and James Bond films with Nolan’s own metaphysical fascinations. You can experience it in IMAX, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

Tenet Poster


Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

Release Date
August 22, 2020


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